NHS ‘Culture Change’ Needed To Improve Reporting Of Problems

Research Raises Concerns Over Whistleblowing

05.12.2011

A ‘complete culture change’ is needed across the NHS to ensure that all members of staff are not afraid to speak out over the concerns they have about care in hospitals, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell has urged.

New figures from the Royal College of Nursing have revealed that around a third of nurses have been discouraged or warned off reporting care problems, with more than 70 per cent suggesting managers told them directly not to.

It was also revealed that many nurses were worried about becoming whistleblowers because of the potential impact it could have on their career.

Now, national law firm Irwin Mitchell has joined calls for the NHS to wake up to the problem and ensure that the issue is tackled immediately.

Lisa Jordan, a Partner at Irwin Mitchell who acts for patients who have suffered as a result of medical errors or substandard care, said: “A complete culture change is needed on this issue to ensure that nurses are encouraged to raise concerns at the first opportunity, while we would urge senior figures in the NHS to ensure that any issues raised are properly investigated.

“These figures are an absolute travesty and will undoubtedly generate a huge cause for concern across the NHS and the general public, particularly among families whose loved ones are currently being treating in hospitals.

“Time and again we’ve helped people seek justice over problems which could and should have been avoided if those working for NHS Trusts had spoken out over issues affecting patient safety.

“It is truly appalling that this research suggests many nurses are not just discouraged from formally reporting their concerns, but also in a number of cases ignored when they do come forward over problems they seen in hospitals and their wards.”